Evaluated Routes

October 1992
You get paid by the hour. Do you like it? Is it fair? Should it be changed? What would you think of getting paid by the route, instead of the hour? Presently, we get paid by the hour, but what if you got paid by the assignment, almost like a rural carrier? Would we then get paid by the letters we deliver, or the stops we deliver? Don't know. Once an assignment is established as an eight hour assignment, do you get paid the same amount if you work 5 or 12 hours a day? Don't know. Can management determine an eight hour route without prejudice? YOU KNOW. It is said, this new idea can reduce the stress in the USPS. This assumes that time constraints are the big cause of stress in the USPS. Management doesn't have enough time to authorize O.T., and carriers don't have enough time to deliver the eight hour routes without this authorized overtime. Some eight hour routes can take ten, eleven, or more hours, depending on the volume for that day. This is a major cause of stressful relations between management and labor.

Time is not a cause of stress at the USPS. Time is an absolute; it is a form of measuring a set pattern. There are 60 minutes in an hour and 480 minutes in 8 hours. Because time is absolute, it can not be changed, unlike the feet in a full tray of mail that the supervisors measure every morning. One day a tray of letters has 2 feet and later it's 1.75 ft. Time is a measuring stick, (that can not expand and contract when I, or anyone else, want it to) which is used to determine my worth every pay period. Without time as an absolute, to measure my worth, the concept of eight hours work would be left up to the manipulations of management's idea of what an eight hour assignment should look like. Presently, I see management's idea of an eight hour route, even though it takes longer than eight hours, and see time as an objective way of linking compensation to a carrier's performance. It is fair. While there is stress on the job, time is not the major cause.

The "rural type" of system has a potential of causing stress. For example, the implementation of an 8 hour route could possibly work great. Small routes could be encouraged so that carriers will agree it's great. The danger lies in the potential add on and expanding of street territory as automation expands and the cycle of cost cutting continues. If that occurs, the letter carrier loses OT, job security, and still gains more stress in the future. A good criticism for this new idea is that it works for rural carriers, why not city carriers? But look at the sheer volume and number of total stops between city and rural in the country. The USPS management will not allow the number of city carriers to have assignments where eight hour pay is compensated for less then eight hours work. They will make sure you have an eight hour assignment, like you do now, right? But that's their job. Eight hours plus some. Not all change is good. The USPS will have to change to stay competitive, but instead of changing the way letter carriers are paid, or trying to provide an environment to help carriers, top management and top union officials can stop producing rules imposed on people who physically move the mail. Rules, regulations and moratoriums can be used by management and carriers as ammunition to deadlock a system, empower people, and cause destruction. It is not the overall cause of stress, but it could be used as a vehicle that can imprison and keep stress going. Management at the highest levels, need to create a new model of service and get rid of the present old model of production line thinking. We don't produce cars for Henry Ford, we provide a SERVICE to the American people. We are a service organization, yet we measure ourselves as if we produce a product. Management, using the DUVRS system can not measure performance objectively. These numbers measure nothing real and only pretend to track real performance. People pretend and create subjective numbers, like so many letters in a foot of mail, or the number of feet of letters at your case when squashed together in one post office and loosely placed at another office. This old style of measuring performance creates a system where production, at the cost of quality service, is the goal. This type of measuring causes expectations, which are not realistic and feeds upper levels of management with lies. How can upper management make realistic goals and change plans when this information is used as measuring the performance of a carrier, unit, or post office?

What value is placed on the experience of the person who moves the mail? Millions are spent on machines, which are fast, yet experienced people are burnt out and replaced without placing a value on the cost of training a new person to the level of the person burnt out. What technology is used to support the people who move the mail? None, except to monitor or replace them. What is customer satisfaction to a service organization? Everything. But what is more important to the USPS? Production. Is it better to rely on machines or people? Machines for speed, and people for reaching changing adaptive goals and providing service. Ask NASA the next time they try to rescue a satellite. Millions were spent on a robot arm and eventually it took teamwork by humans to reach their goal. Maybe the USPS needs more teamwork to rescue itself. Attitudes have to change first, respect has to prevail, and realistic goals need to be established. Changes are around every corner these days at the USPS. The letter carrier has gone through a lot of changes in the last ten years. It should follow that changes in management will come next. How the levels of management will change is up to the new Postmaster General. But people will not change if they are not given the freedom to change. The end result is that changes will have to come from within us and every level of management as well as craft, not changes in compensating the letter carrier.


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